Spanish La Liga has been a two-horse race for a very long time. For this, there are only two teams that have a realistic chance of winning the league almost every season, but for this season, and for one team, this chance has been growing with each passing match and every three points won.
Seven days ago, Real Madrid led the Spanish Primera Division table and arch-rivals Barcelona by a massive 10 points. Majority Barca fans remained pessimistic about keeping the title in Catalan hands.
But the 2-0 win over Sevilla last Saturday pulled the Catalan giants to within seven points of Madrid, who could only draw 1-1 against Malaga 24 hours later, a result which took the gap to eight points.
The 10 points was a significant gap, and some started to think Madrid had already won the league, but it (gap) reduced further to six points following Barca’s 5-2 win over Granada, while Madrid could only manage yet another 1-1 draw against Villarreal in midweek.
As you already know, the Champions League will be picking up in the coming month. Madrid were fortunate to draw Cyprus’ APOEL for their quarterfinal opponents, while Barca have Italian champions AC Milan in the waiting.
Although the Madrid vs APOEL match should certainly not to be taken for granted considering that APOEL are the dark horse of the competition, Real Madrid should advance to the semi finals, where they will likely meet Bayern Munich, whose Allianz Arena stadium will stage the final.
The match against Bayern, who face French outfit Marseille in the last eight, is going to be difficult by any standard, and the German team will pose Madrid the first real threat in the competition.
If Madrid manage to advance past the Germans, they will probably be meeting Barca in the final. But first things first, the holders must first overcome AC Milan and possibly Chelsea (who face Benfica in the quarterfinals) in the semifinals.
With Champions League matches begging more attention and La Liga opponents bound to get trickier, Madrid is bound to drop points as we’ve already seen in their last two league matches.
Although I would like to believe Mourinho’s men could possibly win their every single remaining match, realistically, that will be asking too much, they’re human too, lest we forget. Whenever a team plays more matches, there are bound to get more injuries and tired legs.
Although the Special One is a master at rotating his squads, some players are vital to the success of the team and, thus, will be getting little rest. For instance, Cristiano Ronaldo, a player he can’t afford to rest under normal circumstances.
So, now with the gap having reduced from ten to six points in a space of four days, should Madrid faithful start to worry about slipping up here and there in the remaining 10 games? Well, from where I stand, they should be concerned because that gap can shrink. And it can shrink fast.
Assuming the two front runners keeping winning their matches until Madrid make the trip to the Nou Camp on April 22, a match in which unfortunately, Barca will likely be taking those points considering they’re on their own turf, the gap shrinks to three points.
Suddenly it’s not much of a gap anymore, is it? Any slip-up and suddenly the title fight is on in the remaining four fixture where Madrid have Sevilla (h), Athletic (a), Granada (a) and Real Mallorca (h), while Barca Rayon Vallecano (a), Malaga (h), Espanyol (h) and Real Betis (a).
Madrid’s preparations for the final stretch could be hampered by the absence of key men, including coach Mourinho, defender Sergio Ramos and midfielder Mesut Ozil, who were all sent off in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Villarreal.